Latest in the queue of search engines battling it out to compete with top dog Google is lesser known DuckDuckGo. It’s been around for five years however that’s not really so long given its entrenched competitors. And for them its good news as they celebrated reaching 1 billion searches last year, not a bad achievement for a small player in a busy playing field.
Looking at the data that they have provided the number of visitors they received jumped up in the early to mid-stages of 2013, where they saw their biggest spike in numbers to date. Since then the figures have pretty much continued to steadily rise (only occasionally dipping and by very little).
Its USP as a search engine is that searches aren’t tracked so users can be comfortable that they are searching the web anonymously. The large hike in number of visitors in 2013 may be down to increasing awareness but also quite likely to be specifically related to the NSA privacy scandal and ensuing fallout. Indeed, spikes in numbers seem to correlate with big news events such as that, highlighted and annotated in the following diagram:
As the graph highlights it was in the immediate aftermath of surveillance and NSA concerns that gave rise to the huge increase, indicating that people take their online privacy seriously. DuckDuckGo themselves attribute the rise in their success to this, giving the ‘points of difference’ as the below:
- They have less spam and clutter in their results as they aggressively filter content farms. They also have only one ad per page result.
- They highlight the best instant answers “via partners like Wolfram Alpha and by developers contributing via our instant answer platform.”
- They don’t second guess users preferences by their online behaviour: “We don’t bias search results towards what we think particular users would already agree with.”
- Encrypted searches
Likely as a result of the NSA/PRISM furore Google made all its searches encrypted (safe search) last September. However it’s not only that makes them different but all the other listed reasons as well. If the trend on their graph is anything to go by, forecasts should have it that their audience base will continue to grow apace.